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Introducing…Dieter Bohlen

Introducing…is The Local's guide to the fabulous world of b-list German celebrity. With the new season of Germany’s version of Pop Idol starting on Wednesday night, there’s no better Teutonic star to feature first than music producer Dieter Bohlen.

Introducing…Dieter Bohlen
Photo:DPA

Who is he and why is he famous?

Apart from his excessive use of tanning salons and teeth-bleaching products, he is probably best known as the driving force behind the TV show Deutschland sucht den Superstar – better known as Pop Idol in Britain and American Idol in the United States. Dieda, as he is referred to in Germany, is famous for his unsparingly blunt and often harsh criticisms as a judge on the programme. He insults contestants and makes wisecracks about their singing abilities, or lack thereof. So he’s basically a Teutonic version of Simon Cowell with a fake tan.

Sounds like a real swell guy…

Well, he certainly has an amazingly “rich” vocabulary when it comes to giving failed contestants a piece of advice for life. One fine example of his myriad pearls of wisdom that he shares with people on Deutschland sucht den Superstar is: “You sing like a garden gnome on ecstasy.”

Blimey! Who does he think he is?

Not that we know if he’s religious, but he carries himself like he’s second only to God. Bohlen is certainly convinced of his star power in Germany, even though most people have probably already suppressed it that he once had a music career of his own. Impressively, he’s even worked with other people you’ve either forgotten existed or never heard about like Bonnie Tyler, Howard Carpendale and Roger Whittaker.

So what did he do exactly?

Once up on a time, Dieda met a similarly well-tanned bloke named Thomas Anders. They founded the 80s pop band “Modern Talking” and composed a plethora of high-pitched falsetto tunes such as “Cheri, Cheri Lady” and “You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul,” which, up to this day, probably still haunt some Germans in their sleep.

Were they any good?

Oh, they had some hits in the charts and even won a few awards but as soon as falsetto and electronic 80s cheesy-goodness where out, they disappeared. That led Bohlen to focus on his other passion alongside music: women.

Not particularly novel for a pop star, is it?

No, but Bohlen excels at turning women he’s dated into other b-list celebrities. Not only are his love interests considerably younger than him, they almost all end up using their time with Dieda as springboard to fortune and fame.

For example, there was Verona Feldbusch (now Verona Pooth), who married Bohlen in 1996 to divorce him after only 30 days of nuptial bliss. After appearing on television to claim he had hit her, she went on to have a successful career hosting mildly erotic shows like “Peep” and “Verona’s World” and making money from ad campaigns highlighting her supposed stupidity.

But he didn’t stay home broken-hearted, right?

Certainly not. Aside from the Teppichluder incident, where he was caught soiling a store’s carpet with a shop girl, he’s bounced from one young exotic beauty to the next.

So aside from bumping into him at the tanning salon or while picking up my daughter from school, where else would I know him from?

Apart from the latest season Germany’s of Pop Idol show, he can be currently seen on telly in an advert licking margarine off his lips. Apparently he’s realised he’s not getting any younger and is looking to tap that demographic concerned about their cholesterol.

He’s also had three books written for him – I mean, he’s also written three books. True to form, two of them are about Bohlen. His autobiography “Nothing but the truth” and the self-improvement guide “The Bohlen Way” were both bestsellers in Germany.

So he’s not just vocal coach, but life coach as well, eh?

Not exactly. “The Bohlen Way” focuses more on bulldozing your way through life than anything else. His autobiography on the other hand revealed some really interesting things – such as the tidbit that he’s broken his penis…twice.

Um, so should I really ask what the third book is about?

His third tome revealed dirty little secrets about other celebrities. But some of his former friends got a restraining order and the publishers had to stop everything and come up with a new edition. He’s now confined his writing to a blog for German tabloid Bild.

Anything else I need to know?

Maybe one more thing. Dieter Bohlen is supposedly the only foreigner to ever receive the honourary title of People’s Artist of the Soviet Union in 1989. Apparently Modern Talking was big behind the Iron Curtain…

MUSIC

Dancing like there’s no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig

For techno enthusiast Philipp Koegler, it almost felt like a normal Saturday night again as he joined 200 fellow revellers at "Distillery", the first German nightclub to reopen since the start of the pandemic.

Dancing like there's no Covid: first German nightclub reopens in Leipzig
A file photo of a disco ball in a night club. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Britta Pedersen

“Tonight, there are no rules,” the almost 30-year-old told AFP, whipping off his mask on his way to the dance floor.

Despite more than a year of closures forced by the coronavirus, it didn’t take long for the thumping beats, low lights and buzzing crowds to reawaken the much-missed club atmosphere.

“It feels like I’ve come back after being away on vacation for a week,” Koegler beamed.

But of course there are some rules to restarting the party, even in Germany where coronavirus infections have declined steadily in recent weeks as the pace of vaccinations has picked up.

The Distillery club in the eastern city of Leipzig, which bills itself as the oldest techno venue in Germany’s former Communist east, is taking part in a pilot project supported by scientists from the Max Planck institute and the local university hospital.

Just 200 club-goers are allowed in instead of the usual 600 and each person must take two different kinds of coronavirus tests earlier in the day, with entry granted only if they test negative both times.

Once inside, the masks can come off and revellers don’t have to socially distance.

Each participant also agrees to being re-tested a week later, to uncover potential infections despite the precautions taken.

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Organisers hope the project can serve as a blueprint for further club re-openings to help the hard-hit sector back on its feet after a devastating year.

Although several venues in Germany experimented with open-air parties, club-goer Konny said it “just isn’t the same”.

“In the club, you’re in a different world,” she said.

Growing influence

Distillery manager Steffen Kache expressed pride at being the first club in the country to reopen indoors.

“Everyone is jealous,” he told AFP.

Kache said that if there has been an upside to the pandemic closures, it was that politicians had woken up to the social and economic importance of Germany’s vibrant club culture.

Lawmakers last month agreed to reclassify nightclubs as cultural institutions rather than entertainment venues, putting them on a par with
theatres and museums to provide more protection and tax benefits.

Germany’s nightlife capital Berlin alone – home to iconic clubs Berghain, KitKat and Tresor – usually attracts tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year who generate over a billion euros in revenues.   

Many observers fear that when the pandemic dust has settled, not all of Germany’s clubs will have survived the lengthy shutdowns.

The collaboration with local authorities that made Distillery’s pilot project possible was “unthinkable before the crisis”, Kache said, and evidence of a “reconciliation” between underground club culture and the political establishment.

He said he hoped the next step would be “the nationwide reopening of cultural spots and clubs, without Covid restrictions”.

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